When I put my nose in a glass, it's like tunnel vision. I move into another world, where everything around me is just gone, and every bit of mental energy is focused on that wine.
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The best Chateauneuf-du-Papes are among the most natural expressions of grapes, place and vintage. Chateauneuf-du-Pape vineyards are farmed organically or biodynamically, and the region's abundant sunshine and frequent wind (called 'le mistral') practically preclude the need for treating the fields with herbicides or pesticides.
What's important in a cellar is having wines that have a broad range of drinkability, which California Cabernet does. Wines with a broad range of drinkability give you a lot of flexibility; they are the sort of wines that make me feel secure. I think of my wine cellar as security - if the apocalypse comes, I can just go down to the cellar.
Wine writers have been around for almost as long as there has been wine, but in the past, generally speaking, most wine writing was uncritical and emphasized wine as a romantic, historic beverage. Criticism and comparative tastings were eschewed for fear of offending the trade, which most writers depended upon for survival.